If children need to take on the role of father or mother

As Uwe Hauck decides to end his life, his 13-year-old daughter Katja in the school. She is new to the class. Together with a classmate, she rasps carrots, the students want the tarte flambée baking. She still remembers exactly how her mother suddenly comes in and quietly with the teacher is speaking.

“I thought I did something bad,” she says four years after the day you will never forget. To explains only the home of the mother, why she has Katja and her two brothers so suddenly from the lessons brought: The father was upset””. To a lot of Stress. He was now in the hospital, the children need not to Worry, she says.

“The explanation I have not believed from the beginning,” says Katja. However, none of the siblings asked. You don’t feel it is the right time, the mother is tense, even the grandparents came. The father remains in the hospital, it takes weeks.

It was only much later, the parents Katja and her brothers tell the truth. Again, you call everyone into the living room, and again, Katja thinks she would have done something. Instead, she learns that her father has tried to take his own life. From a panic attack out of Uwe Hauck and his wife had sent a farewell message via WhatsApp. So she had found him in time.

Circles your thoughts about to take his own life? You talk to other people about it. Here you will find the – also anonymous – offers of help in seemingly hopeless situations. By phone, Chat, E-Mail or in a personal conversation.

“Of course we were shocked,” says Katja. “And at the same time, I wanted to find out what a Depression is, and if I had anything to do with it.” She has so many questions: Why would you want to kill yourself? Can it happen again? You researched on the Internet, is relieved when she reads that Depression is very treatable and your dad is now in treatment. Finally.

Affected are prone to feelings of guilt

For years, the 51-Year-old suffered from States of depression and anxiety, without knowing it. “I always thought that I am this way,” says Uwe Hauck. “I thought it is a part of my personality that I am melancholic and thoughtful, often unfocused, or that work is stressing excessively.” He had increasingly the feeling that his family was better off without him. Up to the day of the suicide attempt.

“That is typical for a Depression,” says Ulrich Hegerl, a psychiatrist and Chairman of the Board of the Foundation German depression aid. Affected tended to be in the disease stage to blame yourself. “You will not experience the Depression as a separate illness that can affect anyone,” says Hegerl, “but of themselves as a loser, as Someone who does not address his problems or work pressures is not finished.” The step to the realization that it was a disease that was very difficult for most. “Some take years,” says Hegerl. “For the members of the is extremely stressful, they often feel helpless.”

Also Katja don’t know, first of all, as you can with your father to deal with. “Looking back, I realized that the Depression was Much to blame,” says the 17-Year-old. “He was not, for example, often absent, his answers did not fit at all to my questions.” When he came home from work, had the children in their rooms, to stress the father. Nevertheless, they have had a beautiful Childhood, says Katja. Also wanted to say to her dad: ‘You don’t have to feel bad.’

She decides to write him letters. For a year the father and daughter to each other, write your feelings, share information. This year you have the exchange of letters in the book “Dear Papa, are you crazy?” was published.

Katja and Uwe Hauck: “Dear Papa, are you mad now?”

The handling of Uwe and Katja Hauck is loving, there are no allegations, no bitter words. However, children of depressed parents suffer particularly under the emotional strain. “If mother or father are sad, children have the feeling to have done something wrong,” says Michael Franz, the Medical Director of the Vitos clinic for psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatics, Giessen-Marburg. “Then you have to help often feel the need to, or something to make up for that.”

The biggest Problem is the so-called parentification, a role reversal that arises is, if one of the parents can no longer make it due to the illness itself. Especially in the case of lone parents children take on tasks that are actually not child-friendly, “the Balance in the family recover,” explains Franz, special coaching for children of mentally ill parents. “They help in the household, go shopping or take care of even the diseased parents, encourage it to Take medicines or to comfort.”

At the same time the children do to the outside as if everything was in order – because of the stigma that is still on depression. “Children love their parents, no matter what they say or do and whether they are healthy or sick,” says Franz. “This can lead to conflicts of Loyalty.”


“If my mother needs to back to the hospital, I always think that I caused this.” (Luke, 17 Years Old*)

To go “instead of in the school and to do homework, should I stay with her, as she sits there every day sad and alone in the dark house. Your image I always see in front of me, even in school.” (Elisa, 13 Years*)

“I was the other day, even naughty. I thought then: I hope you don’t kill yourself.” (Ben, 11 Years*)

*Statements of participants from the psychiatric advice of Vito’s hospitals in Gießen-Marburg site. Name and age were changed by the editors.


As a result, the feeling, to have no right to a private life, resulting in children often. “Such people are more vulnerable than adults often Burn-out, because self-care is difficult for you – you get quickly a bad Conscience,” says Franz. “Their experience can also be a Chance to make it stronger, better.”

The silent end

Katja Hauck begins after the suicide attempt of her father’s self-therapy. There she learns not only the meaning of the illness of her father – but also the open. “My classmates had so many questions, I’ve noticed that far too little is spoken,” she says.

Also Uwe Hauck feels that the open dealing with his Depression as a liberation. “I’ve experienced a lot of people have said ‘This is’ or ‘pull yourself together’,” he says. “That doesn’t help in such moments and gave me more the feeling of being a failure.”

During his stay at the Clinic, the IT tweet-slap-art under the Hashtag #fruitsalad. “At once I got a lot of messages from all sorts of people, the said: that to Me is known, I think I’m going to go to the therapist.” It surprised him how many there are. Therefore, it is important to end the silence around the depression.

Today Uwe Hauck know that the ruminations are not a part of his personality. Against panic attacks, he always wears a Chili-candy with you: “The sharpness distracts my body from the panic,” he says. “So I get anxiety in the handle.” He takes antidepressants, which stabilize it, has revived old Hobbies again, and does a lot with his children. “The hospital stay is the Best thing that could happen to us,” he says. “The depressive phases can come back. But I’ve learned to deal with it.”